Do RAW weigh in on attacking as normal in rounds following the one in which you successfully applied a grapple, *while maintaining that grapple*
Wizard, polymorphed into a giant ape, moves up to melee with an adult dragon in the middle of a field. Wizard/ape uses his action to grapple the dragon and succeeds that opposed check.
On the dragon's turn, let's say it's not concerned about its speed being zero and just attacks a bunch, does a bunch of damage.
Wiz/ape doesn't move, then uses multiattack to pound the dragon twice.
Is the grapple maintained?
I say it is, because nothing in the description of grappling says it limits the grappler's actions to maintain it. (Forgive the lack of quote; I'm writing this on my phone)
(I'm not asserting that the above situation is likely to ever happen or play out that way. I'm just trying to suss out the mechanics in RAW)
I will certainly concede that it would make sense for a DM to rule that the wiz/ape didn't have access to his multiattack, or could effectively only attack once. But, again, interested in the mechanics as written and errata'd to make sure I'm not missing anything.
Well, that situation almost occurred at our (virtual) table: druid polymorphed into giant ape, fighting an adult black dragon we ran into. No grapples, tho. :(
The only limitation to such a sequence of events would be if the attacker's attack required the use of an appendage being used to maintain the grapple. For example, as a human, you couldn't attack your grapplee with a greatsword, since that would require two hands, and you're using one to maintain the grapple. In the situation you described, giant ape multiattack says it makes "two fist attacks". While it is usually (I think?) described as one attack with each fist, that's not a requirement: the ape could maintain the grapple with one hand, and attack twice with the other. If the description of Multiattack had said "makes one fist attack with each fist", then yeah, you'd be limited to one fist attack in order to maintain the grapple.
Looking it up, Multiattack doesn't specify you need any particular number of extremities available to use.
And, as you mentioned, ape description does say "makes two fist attacks"
I'll see if I can get Crawford to address this. Digging into rules is always a fun exercise for me.
In my character's situation, I'm considering a daredevilish plan to fly up to an escaping dragon, cast polymorph, land on it and grapple it and have us crash down to the ground (and hope I've got enough hp to survive the fall). That's really the only reason I'm seeking the grapple, here; otherwise I'd definitely just skip it and hulk smash😀
"If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this (grappling) attack replaces one of them."
"Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target..."
"The (grappled) condition specifies the things that end it..."
As I see it, if the grapple is not contested, you may attack while grappling after a successful grapple attack and while successfully maintaining the grapple. However, as DM, I would rule that since at least one free hand is required to attempt a grapple, that same hand must be used to maintain it, even if unopposed. As long as your attacks are not limited by the need to attack two handed or the use of both hands in succession, I would allow it. Multiple attack, punch the bugger twice. Good by me.
Edit: I might also insist that if a grapple is being opposed, even though the player might be successfully maintaining the grapple, that their attention would be on the squirmy thing they are attempting to restrain, not allowing them to attack as well. It really would be a touch and go thing for me.
I admit that makes sense, but, again, grapple rules do not literally say (as far as I can tell) that you lose the use of any of your appendages to maintain the grapple.
Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check instead of an attack roll: a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). You succeed automatically if the target is incapacitated. If you succeed, you subject the target to the grappledcondition. The condition specifies the things that end it, and you can release the target whenever you like (no action required).
Like everyone else already said, other than depriving you of a hand, grappling doesn't limit your actions.
Also, any creature can make an unarmed strike using any part of their body that makes sense, so you always have an attack option even if both hands are holding something.
All good points. While it doesn't explicitly say you need a hand to maintain the grapple (though you do need at least one to initiate it), it certainly makes sense to rule that you need that hand to continue to be used for the grappling (whether or not you're ruling it limits your attacks).
I think I got so fascinated by this because the simplified grappling rules in 5e seemed to make it not as worth it to grapple. Reducing a target's speed to zero (and possibly move them around later) has not really come up hardly at all as a need in our two-year campaign.
BUT that's because I had been *assuming* you had to give up your actions to maintain the grapple, which isn't the case at all. It's more like icing on a cake of attacks, especially if you've got the extra attack class feature. Still situational, but at least not all-consuming.